Monthly Archives: April 2015

Baby gifts 

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Baby gifts 

At my work right now, there are at least 6 women who are pregnant, which doesn’t sound like much, but out of a staff of 40, it is a considerable number! Plus two of my kids teachers are pregnant. So, I have been crocheting a lot, and making these cool baby photo props!  

 

The ideA of these photo props is that you take a photo with each card, at each milestone of the baby’s first year. This serves as a fantastic record to remember how much your baby has changed each month. Also, if you put them together into a frame or collage, this would make a great gift, or keepsake! 

I began by using Microsoft publisher to design each card. I made them 4″ by 6″ each. Then, once I had the design the way I liked, I took them to be printed at staples. I figured it would probably be cheaper to pay 39 cents a copy, than to pay for toner! After I printed them all out, I cut around each card, leaving about a millimetre of white showing.

 

Once I had them all cut out, I used my portable laminator to laminate them in plastic. I bought this laminator a few years ago at Walmart, and it has been worth every penny! 

 

You just have to buy the laminating pouches to go along with it. Which is why I made all of the cards 4 by 6, because the pouches come in that size, so no more cutting.

So it is just a matter of putting each card inside a pouch…

   

    

And waiting for them to go through. I tried to get a helper, but the kids were not biting. This isn’t the fastest moving laminator! I have hand drawn these before for friends, and covered them with clear shelving paper, but with so many pregnant women around, I figured I might need to speed up production a little!

So, I made cards that say, one day old, one week old, one month old, two months old…. All the way to a year old. Fourteen cards in total.

 

  

  

  

Here is a random copyright free baby I found to give you a visual…  

 And, speaking of mass production, I am so excited that I have finally set up an account on Etsy! Etsy is like eBay but for crafts only, it’s pretty amazing! I have listed an extra set of cards I made for $15.00. And I also added a few crocheted blankets I have made in the last few weeks. So if you are looking for a baby or shower gift, check out my Etsy store!

Here is the link!

  Artzcool on Etsy  

If you have never been on Etsy before, I apologize, it is just as addictive as Pinterest, but unlike pinterest, if you see an idea you love, you don’t have to make it yourself, you can just buy it! Once again, my apologies! 

Anyways, have a great rest of the weekend, I am going to go for a walk, or sit outside in the sun with a book! 

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Quick, no time to wait for cupcakes to cool, marshmallow icing

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Quick, no time to wait for cupcakes to cool, marshmallow icing

Whenever the kids go over to friends houses, I always like to send a snack for them to share. Sometimes it’s a bag of chips, and sometimes it’s something that we have made. Depends on the kind of day we are having….

This morning before Sam went to a friends house, I decided to bake some cupcakes. But, somehow inbetween showering, giving John a haircut and making lunch, I left it to less than an hour before she was supposed to be there. So, I decided to try this idea of melting a marshmallow on top of the cupcake as the icing. I have seen it online and on Pinterest, so I thought I would try it. 

Here is another link with instructions Melted marshmallow icing

 

So, I made a regular batch of cupcakes, using my favourite family recipe. (A couple eggs, 1/4 cup of oil, some water and a box of Duncan Heinz!) I put them in the oven, and about 4-5 minutes before the cupcakes were finished baking, I took them out of the oven and put a marshmallow on top of each one. I actually only did half of the cupcakes, just in case this didnt’ work! No time to make another batch…

   

Here is what they looked like after a couple minutes….

  

A few of them started to topple over, so I used a wooden spatula to flatten and straighten them as they started to fall… 

And here is what they looked like fully melted, after about 4 1/2 minutes.

   

As you can see,me tried to add some sprinkles, but the marshmallows had a crispy coating, so the sprinkles rolled right off 😦 

   

But, they were really yummy. Gooey and stringy even when cooled! Not the prettiest cupcakes I have ever made, especially without the sprinkles, but as a timesaver when you are running late, I would do them again. I didn’t hear anyone complaining! 

 

Yummy homemade granola

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Yummy homemade granola

I tend to go on tangents sometimes. When I find a good idea, either creative, time saving, or yummy, I tend to run with it for a while. If you are a creative type person, you’ll understand, but if you are like my husband John, you might not get it… So my current tangent of home made granola started after I was given this recipe from a friend at work….Thanks Linda! 

I know she gave me a recipe, but I have made it a little differently each time since. But, the basic idea is the same. I used a variety of nuts and grains, about 1/2 cup each, of things like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, coconut, flax seeds. Then I have tried adding dried fruits such as apricots, blueberries, cranberries, apple slices, and raisins. Oh, and don’t forget a couple of cups of oatmeal, brown sugar, and coconut oil. 



Start with about a cup of organic coconut oil. 

I popped it in the microwave for a few seconds until it melted.



Then I mixed everything together with about a cup and a half of brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. It should sort of clump together once mixed well. I also tried the agave nectar, and maple syrup to sweeten it, but I think I like the brown sugar the best.



After it is mixed well, spread it out on a cookie sheet. And pop it into a 325 degree oven. Here is what it looks like before…

And  here is what it looks like golden brown, after 15 minutes in the oven.  I baked my first batch at 350 degrees, but I  found that it cooked much more evenly at 325 degrees. This might be because my oven is generally a little too hot, I always find my oven cooks better a few degrees cooler than the recipe says.

Another thing I learned was that if you are adding dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries, they do not need to cook the whole time. In my first batch, after the dried fruit cooled, they were a little too chewy for my taste. So, I tried mixing the nuts, grains, brown sugar and coconut oil, baked for about 10 minutes, until it started to brown….

Then I mixed in the dried fruit for the last 10 minutes or so.

It is delicious! We have been eating it by the handful as a snack, with milk as a cereal, and as a topping for yogurt. 

Now, I have to figure out what to do with the huge box of packaged granola John bought at Costco, because now that I have tried this, I don’t think I can eat the packaged kind any more! 

My Annual Better-than-Cadbury Easter eggs

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My Annual Better-than-Cadbury Easter eggs

I figured out the other day that I have made these eggs every year for probably 15 years. That tells you how good they are! They are not runny in the middle like Cadbury cream eggs, but I think they taste way better…plus now thay are sort of an expectation with friends and family. It’s nice to be wanted, even if it is just for my Easter eggs!

You need a can of condensed milk, a little less than a cup of butter, two teaspoons of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and about 10 cups of icing sugar.



We melted the butter in the microwave for about thirty seconds, then mixed everything together in a really big bowl. In this case, Sam had a friend sleep over, so we split it into two. Did I mention that we started making these at 7:30 am after the sleepover? Yup. 

So, when the kids are mixing, it can get pretty messy, it takes a while to mix in all of the icing sugar. But after all of the icing sugar has been incorporated, it should be the consistency of play dough.   

See our nice, clean table? You should have seen the floor! Lol 

 

To make the yolks in the middle, take out about 1/4 of the mixture and add yellow food colouring. Btw, I don’t think I have ever go the ratio right… I always end up with a few all yellow eggs, or I have to mix more yellow! 

   

If you are using liquid food colouring, you will have to mix in some more icing sugar because it will get all wet and sticky. Mix in the yellow food colouring a few drops at a time until the yolk is the colour you want.

I gave the girls the job of rolling the yolks. You can really make these eggs as big or as small as you want. I like to make them smaller because then I can eat twice as many. Also, they are very sweet and rich tasting…makes sense considering they are literally made of basically sugar and butter.

  

Then, to make the egg white, you basically flatten a piece of the white mixture, put the yellow yolk in the middle, and wrap the white around.    

Then roll it around in the palm of your hand to make it egg shaped and smooth.

 

I had the girls roll a bunch of the yolks, and I broke off a bunch of pieces of white, rather than making them one at a time. This makes it much easier to make them a uniform size.

   

When the eggs were formed, we put them out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, then put them in the fridge to cool for an hour. Man, I would love one of those fridges with a pull out drawer. Trying to fit three full cookie sheets of eggs into our fridge takes a bit of skill! We ended up making over 100 eggs from the recipe. If you make them small, it makes a lot!

 

After about an hour in the fridge, we took them out and melted some milk chocolate. I’m not going to lie, this part is a little tricky. If you put the eggs right into the chocolate, they get all slippery and melt, and end up a weird shape. So I use two spoons, one to hold the egg, and the other one to spread the chocolate over.

   

Then, tap about 10 times to get of all of the excess chocolate, and lay it carefully on the cookie sheet.

  

This year, we decided to use colourful sprinkles. Sam, my sprinkle girl, has the sprinkle technique perfected, so she added all of the sprinkles after I did the dipping. Then they need to cool down in the fridge again for about an hour.  

I used mini cupcake holders to put them in….    

 

I also dug up some cute little boxes. The kids wanted to share and I brought some into work.

Here is the platter I brought to easter dinner at my mom’s yesterday…

   

As you can see, I added some chocolate dipped pretzels around the outside, which the kids thought looked like a nest.

 

Here is what they look like from the inside… I guess it would simplify thing a lot if you skipped the yolk, but isn’t the yolk cute?

Anyways, to those who celebrate, Happy Easter!